Major Ian Archibald Finlay


Ian Archibald Finlay, of Castle Toward, Argyllshire, Scotland, was born on 17 March 1878 at Coulmony House, Ardclach, son of John Finlay, late major in the 78th Highlanders, and his wife Mary Marcella Finlay (nee Taylor).

Finlay was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, on 2 December 1896. On 20 May 1899 he transferred to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys). He was promoted to lieutenant in September the following year.

From 1899 to 1901 he served in the Boer War, seeing action at Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Belfast.  He was twice mentioned in despatches, including "For special good service during [an] attack on [the] convoy to Krugersdorp". He was severely wounded in the arm and leg at Naauwpoort Hill on 5 January 1901 and was invalided home. He resigned his commission on 22 October 1904.

On the outbreak of war Finlay was commissioned as a major in the Scottish Horse, a regiment of yeomanry, serving in turn as staff captain and brigade major. Desperate to join the fighting, when his squadron was held home, he sought a ‘minor staff appointment’ abroad or attachment to the 1st Northants Yeomanry in France. He then sought an appointment as a captain in the North Irish Horse. He joined the regiment on 14 August 1915.

On 11 January 1916 he embarked for France in command of E Squadron of the North Irish Horse. He was promoted to the rank of major on 10 May that year.

Finlay remained in command of E Squadron through 1916 to 1918 in its changing roles as divisional cavalry, then as part of the 1st North Irish Horse corps cavalry regiment, and lastly as part of the North Irish Horse Cyclist Regiment (apart from four months attached to 42nd Division headquarters from September 1917 to January 1918).

On 7 September he was posted to his old regiment, the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) and soon after was attached to headquarters of the 5th Cavalry Brigade. On 17 October 1918 he was wounded in the legs and thigh while commanding a squadron of the 2nd Dragoons. Sent home to recover, he was put on sick leave and soon after found unfit for service. He was demobilized on 21 March 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1 April the following year.

Major Finlay died at London on 9 November 1925.